Frugal Story of the Week: Thrifty Little Old Gal Verna Oller Secretly Leaves Millions to Town to Buy Swimming Pool (video)
Posted By Vicki McClure Davidson on June 12, 2010
No one knew that feisty 98-year-old Verna Oller was a millionaire.
Stories like this truly warm my heart.
God bless you, Verna. May you rest in peace.
Verna Oller was a proud cheapskate to the very end of her 98 years — and the children of Long Beach, Wash., will forever be grateful.
Oller, who cut her own hair, bought only thrift store clothes and refused to purchase even shoelaces, parlayed her tightness with a dollar into an act of generosity that the country is quickly learning about. The sassy former fish filleter amassed $4.5 million through savvy stock picks — and she donated all of it to her town so it could build the swimming pool she never had as a kid. She also had some left over for scholarships and teaching grants.
“I think we could all learn a lot from her,” nursing home owner Andrea Nooman said in a segment aired on ABC News. “She was very simple but very kind and giving.”
Nobody knew Oller’s knack for playing the market except for her friends, Carolyn and Guy Glenn, whom she entrusted to carry out her wish. Guy said she read Barrons and the Wall Street Journal voraciously.
In 2007 footage from the two-minute video, Oller urges the Glenns’ son to buy AT&T stock, bragging about her large return. Apparently she had plenty of other profitable ideas as well. Not bad for a small-town gal with no formal education.
Long Beach, population 1,300, would have received more but Oller’s portfolio took a $500,000 hit during the recession, according to the ABC story. That will be long forgotten when the first kid splashes into the community pool.
ABC News: Frugal Millionaire Leaves Fortune to Home Town
From Chinook Observer, ABC News airing Peninsula story Wednesday night:
LONG BEACH – The story of Verna Oller, who secretly bequeathed $4.5 million to build a community swimming pool and help local school children, will be aired on ABC’s flagship broadcast World News with Diane Sawyer on Wednesday evening, June 9.
Oller’s friend Carolyn Glenn, whose husband Guy is helping manage her estate, was contacted by ABC mid-afternoon Wednesday and told the Oller segment will air.
ABC’s news crew came to the Peninsula last Wednesday and interviewed the Glenns at their home. Carolyn Glenn said they also taped shots of the beach, shots of Long Beach and filmed an interview with Andrea Noonan who owns Circle of Life, where Oller spent her last three years. They also filmed a video of Oller being interviewed by local writer Sydney Stevens back in 2007, originally shot by Guy Glenn Jr.
“No one had looked at it since it was shot. We all sort of forgot about it, but Guy found it,” Carolyn said last week. “The crew just fell in love with her watching the video and saw what a character she was. I know they will use footage from that.”
Sawyer often “uses stories of remarkable people doing good, so the Verna story really appealed to them,” Carolyn said.
Verna Oller was “feisty” and “frugal,” according to ABC News. Frugal to the point where she never even went to a hairdresser. These methods and shrewd investments earned her millions of dollars by the time she died at age 98.
From ABC News:
The sturdy old lady with no formal education amassed a not-so-small fortune: $4.5 million. It was up over $5 million before the recession. Before she died, she directed Guy Glenn to spend every cent of it, but not on her, on her home town.
The town of Long Beach, Washington, will receive its very first swimming pool. Money will also be set aside for scholarships for students and grants for teachers.
A homemade commentary video on Verna’s frugality and tips on how families can be better financially prepared for emergencies, be more thrifty, and to make wise investments:
VERNA OLLER, THE FRUGAL MILLIONAIRE